Gut Feeling: With No New Dak Deal, What Next?

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The July 15 deadline has passed without a new long-term deal for Dak Prescott. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback is now set to play the 2020 season on the one-year franchise tag with extension talks tabled until next year.

The DallasCowboys.com staff reacts to Wednesday's news:

Mickey Spagnola: As you were. No deal by Wednesday's 3 p.m. deal to sign franchised-tagged players to long-term deals. So Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will play the 2020 season, if indeed it's played or however many games are played, on a one-year deal for a guaranteed $31.4 million, the tagged price averaging the top five paid NFL quarterbacks. To me, neither side wins. The Cowboys don't reduce Dak's 2020 cap hit of $31.4 million, maybe as much as half to benefit their ever-dwindling cap space. And Dak doesn't get any money up front. He will now be paid $1.85 million a week over 17 weeks, again, if there indeed are 17 weeks. No signing bonus. No guaranteed money after Jan. 3, 2021 that would have been afforded with a long-term deal. Betting on himself and, but always even more tenuous in this game of football, his health. As for the Cowboys, this gives new head coach Mike McCarthy a year-long interview with his quarterback, yet knowing the price will be going up next year. Carry on.

David Helman: I know there's an entire 2020 season for us to get through, but I can't help but think about the ripple effect of this decision. Dak Prescott will play the upcoming season on a $31.4 million salary. The cost of tagging him again in 2021 will be $37.7 million – so consider that the starting point for any future negotiation. There's almost no chance that Dak can significantly decrease his value this year, so his eventual contract figures to be even more expensive than it already was. This naturally raises two questions. First, can the Cowboys afford to further escalate this negotiation to the detriment of their salary cap? Second, if they can't, are they committed to searching elsewhere for a new quarterback? I haven't even considered that as a possibility for these last two years, but I also never considered that Dak would actually play on the tag. The price is only going to go up from here, and for the first time in his career it makes me wonder if Dak Prescott's long-term future lies elsewhere.

Nick Eatman: There's so many ways you can attack this situation and it's still hard to make sense. The Cowboys always seem to get the deal done when they really need to, and so maybe that's just it - they didn't feel like they really needed to get a deal done in place. Maybe they're not completely convinced that he's the future of the Cowboys. Maybe they'd like to see him get the team back in the playoffs a third year. Or maybe, they're just not willing to play the NFL game of "you're next" that others have played. That's why guys like Stafford, Carr, Garoppolo and Cousins all were once atop the list of highest-paid quarterbacks without having much or any relative success. The Cowboys just weren't willing to go up another level just because it was Dak's turn. But by doing that, coupled with both sides being extremely quiet, it doesn't give us many answers right now. All we know is Dak will be here this year. And we don't even know what this year looks like - only that Dak will be the QB making $31.4 million.

Rob Phillips: Today's news is pretty rare on a couple of fronts. First, Dak will be only the third quarterback to play on the franchise tag, joining Kirk Cousins (2016, 2017) and Drew Brees (2005), since the NFL introduced it in 1993. Second, how many times have we seen the Cowboys prioritize a long-term deal with a star player and it hasn't gotten done after this much time (over a year)? Rare, indeed. But, here we are. I thought there might be some give and take as the deadline approached — perhaps Dak wanting long-term security before the season, perhaps the Cowboys wanting to avoid a 2021 scenario of having to use a second, more expensive franchise tag next year as a placeholder to extend the negotiating window again. A long-term deal still can get done, of course, but not for many months, and who knows what the league's salary cap level will look like a year from now if revenues drop because of the nation's COVID-19 crisis.

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